The Department for Education is well aware of the importance of benchmarking and has been producing constantly evolving tools to assist with this over the last couple of years.
The "self-assessment dashboard" was recently made part of the annual SFVS for maintained schools and made into a compulsory annual report for academies. It can also be used as part of your regular benchmarking report – it doesn't have to be undertaken only once a year. A concise report, it is easy to review and, since all schools are producing them, it is very easy to compare your school’s results with others. Furthermore, should an area for further investigating be identified by the self-assessment tool, further details on these areas will be available on the full government benchmarking website found at https://schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/
With increased availability of information, more questions will arise and that of course is a key part of the governor role when it comes to benchmarking. You are the school’s critical friend. Sometimes there will be a good reason why your school spends more in a certain area and that is fine, but it is a good thing to question, for example, why are the school’s leadership costs, or energy costs, or supply teaching costs, higher than average?
The six most expensive words in education are ‘it’s always been done that way’ and if the answer to any of your probing questions is that, then maybe there is room for improvement which, in these uncertain times, could free up resources for elsewhere.
If you have GovernorSpace credits left, you can use three of them for a 1-hour finance consultancy session with a member of our specialist School Finance team. Please book a consultancy session on your dashboard at www.governorspace.co.uk/login or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, the Entrust Schools Finance team have produced a webinar on conjunction with ISBL (The Institute of School Business Leaders) which is available on Finance Space at a cost of £49.00.
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